An Event and a Lebanese Trend

Lebanese political and press circles have focused on predictions concerning the parliament session for electing the president which is scheduled to be held tomorrow.
The information and political anticipations outweigh that the constitutional quorum will not be complete and that the loyal representatives will not name any president under the slogan of the half plus one quorum or elect him with the present representatives, because they will wait for the results of the two visits to Washington, which will be carried out by head of the Future Bloc Saad Hariri and head of the Democratic Meeting Walid Jumblatt at the beginning of October. The information outweigh that the session will change into an occasion for consultative meetings that House Speaker Berri will hold within the framework of his endeavors to reach a compromise on the president.
Some of the new stands that surfaced were represented in some of the loyal representatives’ call for adopting the two thirds quorum, especially Robert Ghanem and member of the Future Bloc Bahige Tabbara, who stressed that they will not attend any session outside the two thirds quorum. On his part, the presidential candidate Botros Harb said he will withdraw his nomination if it is difficult to secure the constitutional quorum. Within the same framework, the crisis that befell the Tripoli bloc escalated in the aftermath of the different statements of its members concerning the participation in the session and the topic of the quorum.
Leading sources in the opposition said that the assassination of Antoine Ghanem has targeted Berri’s initiative and Ghnem’s role in the dialogue between the phalangists and the National Liberal Trend. It also aimed at depriving Amine Gemayel from any vote at the parliament due to his moderate stands that responded to Berri’s initiative.
The sources added that this assassination is aimed at terrifying the moderates and pressurizing them to prevent any development in the stands among the loyal representatives that may intersect with the House Speaker’s initiative and open the way for compromise.
The sources said that Jumblatt’s statements about new assassinations that will target four representatives take place within the same context. The sources also wondered about the secret of Junblat’s anticipations, saying each time Jumblatt talks about explosions or assassinations, they happen and it turns out that he and his ally Samir Geagea use them politically either through provocations against Syria or through obstructing solutions.

An Event and a Regional Trend

The US tendency to invite Syria to attend the Autumn Conference on the Palestinian question in the aftermath of the international quartet’s meeting has formed a new political development after Bush’s conference seemed threatened due to the job designated to it since the beginning, which aimed at making it a station for an Arab comprehensive recognition of Israel.
Experts in the US policy attribute this new development to the latest developments that the area recently witnessed, and to the political interactions of the conference idea since president Mubarak’s declaration calling for Syria’s participation and treating the Palestinian internal condition before the conference, in addition to Saudi Arabia’ reservation in the light of the negative Israeli indicators in Olmert-Abbas meetings. Al-Riyadh also felt that the moral and political cost of recognizing Israel and covering its rejection of any formula for securing even the minimum of the Palestinian rights will be very high. All of this is the result of years of fierce struggle with the Syrian policy, which rejected submission to the will of the US-Israeli administration, which outweighs the tendency for making bargains with Syria.
The logic of the US bargain expresses itself, as usual, through openness on the one hand, and continuous pressures on the other. It is clear this time that Washington has prevented Paris from openness to Syria and kept this card for itself, conveying the positive message by Rice while ordering March 14 forces and Israel to exert pressures. The Israelis exert the pressures through sabotage, threats and assassinations in Lebanon, and March 14 coalition utters accusations against Syria. These pressures aim at persuading Syria to pressurize its allies in Lebanon and interfere in the presidential merit to facilitate the election of a Lebanese president that meets the priorities of the US policy in the area. And this supposed pressure that Syria is required to exert is the price for attending the conference.

Arab and International Press

Emie Khouri, the founder of the Lebanese Renaissance Society said, in an article published in Boston Globe paper, that if the coming US elections are related to national security, the Americans should give enough attention to the Lebanese presidential elections, because the US interests in the Middle East are vital.
Sharon Ben said, in an article published in the Washington Times, that the majority of the security companies in Iraq work without licenses from the government due to corruption and bribery among the Iraqi officials, who sometimes demand sums that reach one million dollars.
The British paper the Sunday Times said an Israeli commando’s force landed inside a Syrian military base and seized nuclear equipment imported from North Korea.
The Sunday Times said that the American air force authorized some of its leaders to put a highly secretive plan for the coming war with Iran.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej said that Blackwater has jumped to the forefront of news, because it is under investigation with the charge of smuggling weapons to a Kurdish group, which is included in the US list of terrorists. International Press Agencies quoted a senior US official as saying that the US intends to invite Syria to the peace conference which will be held in Autumn.
The Emirate paper Al-Khaleej quoted Syrian official sources as saying that the new US tendency to invite Syria to the conference does not reflect anything new, and that Damascus will not attend a conference whose goals are vague.

Lebanese press

Al-Akhbar said: Lebanon will head tomorrow for a new crisis in the light of the failure of the endeavors that aim at agreeing on a new president.
As-Safir said Tuesday session will remain open until October 17 and that Berry and Saad Haririr may hold a meeting.
An-Nahar said September 25 session will be dominated by the security of the representatives and the opposition’s boycott.
The German press published a comment on Syria which said that anger with Syria has started to decrease and the fiery direct accusations against Syria concerning the assassination of Antoine Ghanem have lost their momentum.

Television Stations News in Lebanon

Al-Manar said Walid Jumblatt started to anticipate new assassinations and he was about to name them in an attempt to escalate tension.
The NTV said tomorrow’s parliamentary session will be consultative.
The NBN said Tuesday session will be exceptional despite anticipations about its failure.
The OTV said the last weekend was like the warriors’ rest before Tuesday session.
The Future said with the approach of the parliamentary session, the convulsive political stands have disappeared while the calls for enhancing dialogue reemerged.

Tendencies is a daily political watch newsletter about the Near East, issued by New Orient News agency in Beirut, Lebanon. It is available on in Arabic, English and French languages. Also worth a read is Indicators, the daily Near East economic watch newsletter, available in Arabic and English.